I think I can say (cautiously) that I am beginning to emerge from a very long period when God has seemed silent and absent.It has been a time for a ‘heads down, walking into the wind’ approach to faith, a time when I’ve been grateful for good memories of God’s presence in my life and prayers, and amazed by present hints that God isn’t as absent as he seems.
I mentioned that I’m reading Pete Greig’s book, “God on Mute” at present. He writes so much better than I can in his section called “Holy Saturday-where is God when heaven is silent?” about some of the ways we can engage the silence during these times. I want to share just two examples of these which particularly resonated with me, from a section entitled “Looking Back-remembering God’s Word in the silence.”
“My friend Justin has lost his sense of taste. There are vague hopes of a surgical procedure that might one day restore it to him but, for the last few years, eating has been little more than a flavourless solution to the nutritional needs of his body. Ironically, Elle, his wife, is an accomplished and enthusiastic cook, and whenever we go to their house for dinner, the food is invariably delicious.
When God seems absent, his Word (given with such love) seems devoid of the exquisite flavours it once had. Others at the table may be feasting on the same food with delight – “Taste and see!” they say enthusiastically – but for us there is no flavour. God’s Word has become bland.
And yet, significantly, it remains as nourishing as it ever was and as vital to the well-being of our soul.” (p264)
“How can God be present yet absent?” Perhaps it is like a distant star, flickering faintly in the darkness, whose light we see, without knowing for sure whether the source is still there. Has the star died, or is it still burning brighter than the sun? We remember times when God seemed to speak to us, or to use us, or to answer our prayer and we determine to stay true to those moments of certainty even though the actuality is so alien to our current experience. And thus, by the distant light of past encounters we may navigate the darkness, like a mariner steering by long-extinguished starts when every other point of reference has disappeared.” (p265)
I hope this is helpful!